SDCC 2011 Interview: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Are Villains for Hire

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are bad. Okay, that’s not exactly true, but they are GOING bad, taking their critically acclaimed Marvel series Heroes for Hire, and flipping it on its head as a brand new ongoing series starting in November called… Wait for it… Villains for Hire.

We do know a few scant details after the announcement at the San Diego Comic-Con 2011's Marvel’s Next Big Thing panel: Misty Knight, the street smart hero of the previous series, is still in charge with Villains for Hire #1 launches; and these are missions that are just too deadly for heroes to handle. And that’s it.

To find out just a little bit more, including what other character is returning to the series, we chatted with Abnett and Lanning about the book, and one thing is clear: they can’t tell us a whole lot more than that. Or they’ll have us murdered.

MTV Geek: Okay guys, what can you tell us about Villains for Hire… If anything?

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning: Nothing. Not at all. It’s a secret. Are you kidding? You’d just call the cops. The Feds are listening to us right now. We don’t want to get mixed up in that. Who are you, anyway? We don’t know you.

Geek: Hm, sounds like you guys are in a tight spot with the law, so we’ll keep this quick. Any tease up about the line-up – or line-ups? You really mined the B, C, and Z list for Heroes for Hire, so I'm expecting Swarm and Big Wheel will be starring the first arc...

DnA: We think you’ll be very pleased. Those “lesser known’ characters that we love to bring to the fore are well represented. Our talent scouts in the criminal underworld have done us proud. We know a guy who knows a guy...

One thing you should know... There MAY be more than ONE team of villains in this. That’s all we’re saying...

Geek: Villains for Hire Blue, and Villains for Hire Gold? I kid, I kid. The previous series – Heroes for Hire – had a very specific focus and mission. Are we going to see that mission continue with this new series? Or is it new series, new rules?

DnA: It’s very close, and it follows straight on, though you don’t have to know anything to jump aboard. We explain as we go. This is the flipside of H4H, the inverse version. You know the saying ‘set a thief to catch a thief...’?

Geek: So, we know Misty Knight is on board… How about Heroes' second lead, Paladin? What’s he up to when Villains for Hire kicks off?

DnA: He’s an essential part of Misty’s operation. Plus, he’s a merc. If we pay him enough, he won’t care how dirty things get... or how unwholesome his ‘team mates’ are.

Geek: And will Paladin ever get to smooch Misty? This is the sort of important, journalistic questions you get from MTV, you guys.

DnA: Boy, does he want to. BOY, does he want to. But a gentleman never says. Thankfully, he’s not and neither are we, so anything’s possible!

Geek: With Misty forsaking heroes, and hiring villains, how much conflict is this going to bring her into with the hero community?

DnA: A HUGE amount, which is why this is strictly on the down-low. Who are you again? Why are you asking all these damn tricksy questions?

Geek: Nobody! I’m nobody! Spoilers on for Heroes for Hire, but two of the big villains in the series were Puppet Master, and now revealed-to-be-pulling-the-strings Purple Man. Are we going to see them showing up in Villains for Hire?

DnA: You see that van across the street? The plain one? No, behind the pick up. That’s NSA. You think we’re going to answer with them listening?

Geek: All right, be honest: this change is just because villains are more fun to write than heroes, right?

DnA: Of course. But the real answer is... Sometimes you get into somewhere so dark and deep only a bad guy can get you out of it. A villain who’s prepared to do the things and take the chances a hero would NEVER touch.

Geek: Something I’m always curious about when you’re talking about a villains’ series… How do you keep the villainous, while also making them the lead in a book? Do you keep them evil, or let them slowly walk the path to righteousness?

DnA: Somewhere in this, there’s a strand of the heroic. Wait and see...

Geek: Lastly, whatever you can tease… At the end of Heroes for Hire #1, you had a huge twist that propelled the rest of the series. Are we going to get the same thing here? I assume? Stupid question probably?

DnA: There will be no twists, surprises or major turns WHATSOEVER. Got that? None. Nada. None at all. What do you take us for? Professional writers with a flair for dramatic shocks?

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